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Health Disparities

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Reducing health disparity among New Jerseyans is an overarching goal of the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH).

A health disparity is "a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; age; mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identity; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion."1
Healthy New Jersey 2020 (HNJ2020) is the state's version of the federal Healthy People 2020 initiative, which sets national objectives for improving the health of all Americans.

HNJ2020 is used for State Health Assessment (SHA) and is also the State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP). As of April, 2018, the 2018 SHA is undergoing edits based on a public comment period in January and February. The 2018 SHIP is in the planning stage and will focus on the SHA's six priorities for 2018-2020: HealthyNJ2020
  • Improve access to health services
  • Improve birth outcomes
  • Increase childhood immunization rates
  • Reduce heart disease and stroke
  • Reduce obesity
  • Improve mental health and substance abuse outcomes

One of Healthy People's four overarching goals is to "achieve health equity, eliminate disparities, and improve the health of all groups." In order to measure progress toward that goal, every HNJ2020 objective based on person-level data has data and targets for the four largest racial/ethnic groups in the state -- Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. When a single year of data does not provide enough events to calculate reliable rates for all racial/ethnic groups, three-year averages are used, if available. For some objectives, three years of data combined still do not include enough events to calculate statistically reliable rates and are indicated as such in HNJ2020 documents. For some data sources outside of NJDOH, data are not available for all HNJ2020 racial/ethnic subgroups.

All HNJ2020 objectives are being tracked as indicators within the NJSHAD system.
New Jersey P.L.2004, c.137 established the Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative in the Office of Minority and Multicultural Health (OMMH) and set forth priority areas for OMMH to develop and implement a comprehensive, coordinated plan to reduce health disparities between White and racial and ethnic minority populations in the State.

The health disparity priority areas are:
  • asthma
  • breast, cervical, prostate, and colorectal cancer screening
  • cardiovascular disease
  • HealthInequity
  • diabetes
  • hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS
  • immunizations (adult and child)
  • infant mortality
  • injuries (accidental) and violence
  • kidney disease
  • obesity
  • sexually transmitted diseases
New Jersey is a racially, culturally, and ethnically diverse state. More than one-fifth of New Jersey residents are foreign-born and nearly one-third speak a language other than English at home and of those, only 60% feel they speak English very well.2

This rich diversity presents a challenge to health professionals. Diverse populations bring different attitudes, expectations, beliefs, and communication styles to each health encounter. Health professionals must be sensitive to these complex issues if they are to be successful.3

NJSNCC The Office of Minority and Multicultural Health offers health professionals many cultural competency resources, including the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care, known as "CLAS Standards." There are 15 CLAS Standards, however the first one serves as the frame and essential goal of the other fourteen: "Provide effective, equitable, understandable, respectful, and quality care and services that are responsive to diverse cultural health beliefs and practices, preferred language, health literacy, and other communication needs."4

The New Jersey Statewide Network for Cultural Competence is a broad-based network to advance culturally competent practices in New Jersey.

NJSHAD Community Dashboard

Dashboards of health indicators for Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites compared to statewide and national rates for: Community Dashboard icon
  • Birth and Infant Health
  • Healthy New Jersey
  • Leading Causes of Death

NJSHAD Indicator Reports

Most or all of the NJSHAD indicator reports in the following topic areas have one or more views by race/ethnicity:
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (BRFS)
  • Birth and Infant Health
  • Cancer
  • Child and Adolescent Health
  • Healthy New Jersey 2020
  • Infectious and Communicable Diseases
  • Injury and Violence
  • Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology (MCH Epi)
  • Mortality and Leading Causes of Death
  • Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

NJSHAD Custom Data Queries

Datasets in the NJSHAD query system that have race and/or ethnicity among the variable choices are:
  • Births
  • Deaths
  • Infant Deaths and Fetal Deaths
  • Inpatient Hospital Discharges and Emergency Department Visits
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Survey: includes data related to arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular health, cancer screening, diabetes, diet and exercise, health care access and coverage, immunizations, overweight and obesity, substance use, and more
  • Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System: includes data for before, during, and after pregnancy, as well as infant health issues like breastfeeding and safe sleep
  • STD Incidence

Other Data Sources

More data related to race and ethnicity for these topics are available at their respective websites.


1. US Department of Health and Human Services. The Secretary's Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2020. Phase I report: Recommendations for the framework and format of Healthy People 2020. Section IV: Advisory Committee findings and recommendations. Page 28. 10/28/08
2. US Census Bureau, 2016 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, retrieved from American Fact Finder on 4/12/18.
3. NJDOH Office of Minority and Multicultural Health, Cultural Competency Resources webpage. 4/12/18.
4. NJDOH Office of Minority and Multicultural Health, Cultural Competence CLAS Policy and Practice circular. 1/1/17.
The information provided above is from the Department of Health's NJSHAD web site (https://nj.gov/health/shad). The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Thu, 21 June 2018 15:24:30 from Department of Health, New Jersey State Health Assessment Data Web site: https://nj.gov/health/shad ".

Content updated: Wed, 23 May 2018 05:01:10 EDT